The Autumnal Equinox signals the end of the summer months and the beginning of winter. At this time of year, days have been shortening since the Summer Solstice some three months earlier, and the Equinox is the point where nights reach the same length as days. After this point, the Sun will shine lower and lower on the horizon until the Winter Solstice in about three months' time.
Equinoxes occur because the Earth's axis of rotation isn't aligned with the plane of its orbit around the Sun: it tilts over by about 23½°. The direction of this tilt is effectively constant, relative to the stars, so that the Earth's north pole always points towards Polaris, the Pole Star, and the south pole always points at the constellation of Octans. (In fact, this direction is not completely constant, and the poles move against the stars by about a fifth of a degree every century).
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